There are many sewing projects that will require fraying the edges of the fabric. Think of scarves, table linens, and jeans – a fringed edge gives them a unique finish that feels both effortless yet sophisticated.
You can also use fringing techniques to alter the look of existing clothing items, making them look better, more interesting, and more attractive. So, knowing how to fringe fabric effectively is always helpful in your sewing adventures.
So, how do you fringe fabric? There are several methods you can use to fringe fabric, but our favorite is by sewing a zigzag stitch parallel to your edge and removing the parallel threads. Other methods include tearing fabric or using pinking shears or a seam ripper.
In this article, let’s learn more about how to fringe fabric and how you can best apply this technique to your projects.
Fabrics To Use For Fringing
The first step in learning how to fray fabric is choosing the right fabric that can fringe easily and neatly. Taking a look at the fabric construction will help you determine whether the fabric is suitable for fraying.
Ideally, when you choose fringe fabric, you’ll want to avoid non-woven materials such as leather, felt, suede, etc. Since the fibers are non-woven, these materials won’t fringe even if there’s a raw edge since the fibers have been bonded together in other ways.
You’ll also want to avoid knit fabric. Knit fabric is constructed by knitting a single long strand of yarn together, creating a stretchy, interwoven construction. If you cut a piece of knitted fabric, it will fray, but in a messy way that follows the knitted pattern. It will not be the neat and even fringe look that you are looking for.
As you have probably guessed, the best type of fabric to fringe is woven fabrics, where the weft and warp threads are woven together in a crisscrossing design, creating an interwoven pattern.
There are many types of fabric weaves, and each one produces a different look and fabric thickness. Twill weave, dutch weave, satin weave are all popular fabric weave designs that you have seen in many types of clothing.
While all of these types of woven fabric can be fringed, the ones that are the easiest to work with are even weave fabrics. This means the fabric is constructed with an even amount of weft threads and weft threads interwoven together to create a pattern.
1×1 weaves are called plain weaves, and you often see this in linen or canvas. Denim or flannels often have a 2×2 weave or more, but the results are still an even weave look with tiny squares produced by the thread construction.
Even-weave fabrics are very easily fringed since the threads are neatly organized in parallel lines. With a little bit of manipulation, you can create beautiful fringes with these types of fabric.
Usually, loosely woven fabric with a plain weave is very easy to the fringe. This is a great way to spice up your table linens or your embroidery project. Other types of fabrics, such as denim, require a bit more effort to fringe, but with the right technique, you should still be able to get a beautiful result.
Before fringing your fabric, you should pre-wash it first to avoid any shrinkage. Woven fabrics often are made from natural fibers like cotton, which is very prone to shrinking in the wash.
Pre-washing the garment will help you correctly estimate the size of the garment and the length of the fringe edge, which is especially important for garments like jeans that you’re planning on wearing.
How To Fringe Woven Fabrics
If you have a piece of fabric that you would like to fringe, then follow the simple method below to fringe your woven fabric.
- Identify the woven pattern – The first thing you need to do before fringing your fabric is to identify the woven pattern in your fabric. This is because to create a nice and even fringe; you will need to work in parallel with the thread pattern in the fabric. If you need to, you can mark a line along the edge you want to cut while making sure that this line is parallel to the thread in the weave. This will act as a guide to help you get a clean and even cut for your fringe.
- Mark you fringe line – Determine the length of your fringe and mark a line parallel to the edge. This will be the line for sewing/sealing the fringe edge to prevent the fringe from over-fraying past the marked line. The distance between the two marked lines will be the length of your fringe.
- Cut the fabric – Cut the fabric along the marked outer line (edge). You don’t have to be exact in this step since you can always trim the fringe later. However, if you’re planning on trimming, make sure to leave some room to allow that. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all of the edges that you are planning on fringing.
- Make your stitches – Use a machine to make a zigzag stitch along the marked inner line (fringe edge). If you are sewing a rectangle, you can sew a single line to create a rectangle around this edge. If you are hand-sewing this edge, you can use the backstitch to seal this fringe edge. This stitch can be a decorative element in your design, so don’t be afraid to play around with the thread color if you want.
- Pull parallel threads – Identify the fabric threads that are parallel to the sewn edge in the outer area of the fabric where the fringe would be. Use a needle to pull these threads out of the fabric one by one. The threads that are left will be the fringe part perpendicular to the sewn edge. Continue pulling out the threads for all the edges that you are fringing.
- Clean up the fringe edge – Trim the edges to even them out. After this, you should have a nice fringe edge for your design.
Working with a contrasting thread color can be a fun way to highlight the fringe edge. If you want the edge to stand out, you can also use a thread that is a bit thicker than the threads in your fabric.
On the other hand, if you want this sewn line to blend in with the fabric, you should match the thread color and the thread weight to the fabric as best as you can. That way, the fringe will look like it’s seamlessly transitioning to the fabric.
Other Methods To Fringe Fabric
The steps outlined above can give you a very even and clean-cut fringe. However, one benefit of fringing is that it can be very versatile, and you can add fringe to some denim pants or jackets to create a very rugged and worn-out look. If you want to create a messy fringe look, below are some ways to do that.
1. Tearing Fabric
If you want a naturally frayed edge, simply make a small cut where you want to tear the fabric and tear that piece away. When you cut, make sure that the cut is parallel to the woven pattern; that way, the tear will be straight.
Then, you want to run the fabric through a few wash cycles to create naturally frayed edges. This method works very well with jeans since it creates an effortless look, and it’s also very simple to do.
2. Using Pinking Shears
Pinking shears are great for creating a frayed edge since the shears will cut a zigzag line, which is prone to naturally fraying.
You can use the pinking shears to cut along the edge of the fringe to create a zigzag edge and pull out a few threads in the fabric near the edge to allow it to fray.
Then, with some wear and tear, the fabric will continue to naturally fray even further, creating a rugged look for your fabric.
3. Using A Seam Ripper
Using a seam ripper is great for creating a dramatic look with frayed edges. You can cut a raw edge in your fabric and then pull out the threads that are close to the edge of the fabric, but rather than using needles; you can use a seam ripper to create a messy effect.
This is a great method to use for thicker fabric, especially denim. The seam ripper will be able to pull away some of the threads in the fabric while leaving some behind, creating a messy and tangled look for your frayed edge.
4. Chopping And Washing
If you love the look of a frayed edge and want a very low-maintenance way to achieve it, this method is for you. It works best with denim since this is a heavyweight fabric that becomes softer after washing.
To achieve this, you will need to cut several vertical lines along the edge of the fabric. These lines will act as “guides” for the fray to follow. You can leave a ½” gap between each line, and the length of the cut will be the length of your fringe.
Then, you can pop it in your washer and run it through several cycles. This step will get messy, so be prepared to clean up the loose threads in your washing machine. The motion of the washing machine will cause the threads to unravel, revealing the fringe edge.
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